East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Author events for digital books


local-author-meet-and-greet-73Author events and presentations.
I like those a lot.
I was at one, yesterday evening.
Quite instructive experience.

And it got me wondering – I’ve twenty ebooks out now, covering a wide range of genres in fiction and non fiction.
A presentation might be a good way to move a few dozen copies, and also do something completely different.
A change of pace, a chance to connect with the readers.

But the point is – how do I go about it?

Because with paper books, it’s easy – I’ve got a box of books with me, I give my presentation, charm the audience with my style and sympathy, and sell a few copies.
Maybe I even autograph them.
But with ebooks?

I’m considering a number of options.
The one I’m most likely to follow consists in organizing digital events for digital books – keep it all in the virtual world.
Do online presentations, blog tours, the works.
I’ll discuss that option in a future post, because it’s a completely different take on the problem.
Right now, let’s stick to live events with real people, and problems thereof…

pirateboxThe most brutal solution would be to have my ebooks on a netbook or laptop (like, the one I use for my presentations), and burn a copy for the readers – they shell out the cash, I burn them a copy.
Or, using something like a PirateBox, I could share the files wirelessly with the public’s devices, through secure wi-fi.
Now that would be cool.

What if someone gets my book at an event and then shares it thorugh the web?
Well, I’m ready to run the risk – my ebooks are DRM-free anyway, so anyone could buy a copy and then pirate it shamelessly.
But let’s have a little faith in humanity.

A very low-tech alternative I have experimented already with a moderate success consists in printing calling cars – on one side, the cover of the book I’m presenting at the event, on the other side, the link to my Amazon page, both textual and as a QRCode.
Anyone’s interested, they can pick up a card and then go home and buy the book.
Nice and smooth.

The only downside of this is, there’s a fair percentage of people that pick up the card but do not buy the book – maybe they would, in theheat of the moment, after the lecture, while they shake hands with the author… but then there’s the long drive home, a sound night of sleep, next morning it’s off to work… many just forget, or shrug it off.

amazongiftGetting gift cards from Amazon or Smashwords and selling those at events would be a possible solution – they just come, shake my hand, drop a coin in the glass jar, and I give them a card.
They go home, and download the ebook.
I never tried this sort of solution, and I wonder how many people would be willing to buy a card.

Right now I do not see any other feasible system.
Oh, granted – I could get my books printed through Lulu or Createspace, order a few boxes, and sell those at events.
But that would be a lot of work, for very little money.

Anyone out there got a better idea?

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

3 thoughts on “Author events for digital books

  1. I fear it would be quite hard to arrange presentations in bookshops

    Maybe in a pub, together with a band playing… Or in some public meeting


  2. Interesting question, now…

    I’ve been wondering the same – and toying with the card notion. Perhaps, to hold the event in a place with internet access would allow those who already have an Amazon account to buy on the spot? “Like what you heard? There’s a computer, feel free to go ahead and buy the book!”

    And, as a passing thought, I rather share Melo’s fears about bookshops – but other venues can be found, surely.


    • It’s just to be expected that book-shops would not be so hot about presenting a book that then the audience can buy elsewhere.
      They have no interest in such things.
      But there’s libraries, cultural associations, book fairs…

      The problem with providing an access on a PC and saying “Use this!” is that you ask them to insert their username and password on your machine… some may not like the idea.
      On the other hand, a PirateBox might be a cheap alternative.

      But we’ll talk more about all this in a pair of future posts 😉


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